The Western snowy plovers – those endangered white puffballs whose residence along the coast has turned parts of certain Santa Barbara County beaches into no-go area for humans – are once again about to begin their breeding season. This bout of plover lovin’ prompted Vandenberg Air Force Base to announce the closure of beaches near the base, effective Saturday, March 1. Portions of Surf Beach near the Amtrak platform known as the Lompoc Surf Station
will be open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. However, off-limits areas are described as being “well-marked,” and anyone found to be in these areas will be subject to arrest and citation by law enforcement patrols. Furthermore, the statement noted, if trespassing becomes excessive, all beach areas will be closed through September 30, the end of the breading season for these federally protected birds. Also banned are pets, horses, and flying objects like Frisbees and kites. According to Vandenberg, these beaches are home to approximately 20 percent of the known population of the Western snow plover.
Note: The original version of this article neglected to include the reminder that, as of September 2007, the State of California declared Surf Beach and nearby beaches as “no fishing zones.” This is still in effect, but was not imposed by Vandenberg Air Force Base or Vandenberg State Marine Reserve. An Independent reader had written in asking for clarification.